The biggest stars in country music gathered in Nashville Nov. 8 for the 51st CMA Awards, and University of South Carolina students had an opportunity to be part of the star-studded event.
Beth Adams, Emily Galloway, Alexis Jendza and Breanna McGarry earned the chance to work for the Country Music Association at the awards through their roles in CMA EDU (Country Music Association Education), a student organization in the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management.
The organization works with CMA to give students unique opportunities to gain career insight and experience with the music and entertainment industry, and Jendza and McGarry took time to share their perspective of the experience working the Nashville’s biggest night.
Jendza is a senior studying sport and entertainment management and is president of CMA EDU at UofSC. McGarry is also a senior studying sport and entertainment management and projects director for CMA EDU at UofSC.
I was as a member of the public relations team at the CMA awards. My responsibilities included escorting artists down the red carpet and communicating with their publicists on which media outlets the artist wanted to interview with.
With CMA EDU, we promote artists coming through the area in return for a learning opportunity with them. These have included Q&A sessions with artists’ management teams, backstage production tours, sound checks, meet and greets and more. Interacting with artists and remaining professional is crucial while working in the music industry. My previous experiences with CMA EDU showed that I could be trusted to handle interacting with artists at the CMA Awards Red Carpet.
My experience working the red carpet was much different than everyone else's. I was paired with sound engineer, Chris Lord-Alge, and was responsible for escorting him and his guest down the carpet and serving as his publicist for the night. He mixed Keith Urban's "Blue Ain't Your Color," which was nominated for and won Single of the Year. Instead of walking the carpet once, we walked up and down the carpet several times because he wanted to see all of his friends. Because of this, I got to see many artists on the carpet and even met a few of them. I coincidentally met Lynn Oliver-Cline, a South Carolina alumna, who launched River House Artists, a label and publishing company which signed rising star Luke Combs. Of all places to meet another Gamecock, it was on the red carpet at the CMA Awards.
I’d have to say what I enjoyed most was seeing firsthand how the whole process unfolds within a few short hours. This is an event we all watch on TV, admiring the glitz and glamour of it all. Watching everything that goes into the event and learning how the process works was fascinating. Being behind the scenes of a red carpet event was an experience I never imagined I would get the chance to have.
The way that the entire country music community comes to together to celebrate one another’s achievements and the genre itself was incredible. Country music truly has the warmest, most genuine people. The atmosphere was contagious and something I will always remember. Now I have a real understanding of the music industry and aspire to work in it post-grad more than ever. I hope more students in our CMA EDU chapter will get this incredible opportunity in the future.
The culmination of my past experiences with internships and CMA EDU helped to prepare me for this amazing opportunity. To learn more about CMA EDU at UofSC, you can follow the student organization on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.